Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Not only no but f--k no

I could advance any number of cogent "practical" arguments as to why it's a really bad idea for the Federal Trade Commission to point a gun at the blogosphere's head. Those arguments would be bookended by these two:

- In order to aspire to status beyond bad joke, a rule has to be enforceable to some non-trivial extent. This one isn't. How many blogs are there? Who knows? Probably at least 200 million. How big is FTC? "[M]ore than 1,000 staff,", most of them already busy with other stuff and nowhere near all of them in "enforcement" billets. Even if the size of FTC was increased by an order of magnitude and all the new staff dedicated entirely to "blog endorsements enforcement," it would be like hiring one cop and telling him to enforce the speed limits ... on every street, road and highway in California.

- While anything resembling universal, or even representative, enforcement is impossible, political abuse through selective enforcement is inevitable. Those $11,000 fines will be slapped on bloggers who piss off people with friends at FTC.

The thing about those two cogent "practical" arguments, and all the ones falling in between them, is that they make no difference. We can shout these things from the rooftop for the next two months, and all we'll likely get out of it is a bigger FTC and a few cosmetic "improvements" to an irredeemably evil and stupid rule.

No, this one is an issue we have to take straight to the moral plane and preemptively begin civil disobedience on.

As fast as things move in the blogosphere these days, I'm sure I'm neither the first nor the biggest fish in the blog ocean to point this out, or to tell FTC what I'm about to tell them, and that's fine. I'm okay with being the thousandth or the ten thousandth, in both order and audience size, and I hope that any of you who haven't yet joined in this action will decide to do so.

Dear Federal Trade Commission:

Go f--k yourselves. This is my blog, not your blog. I will write whatever I choose to write, I'll write it for whatever reasons I choose to write it, and I'll disclose as much or as little about those reasons as I damn well please.

If you think you can squeeze $11,000 out of me over it, feel free to try. You won't get a dime you don't take at gunpoint, and the only way you'll stop me from continuing to write as I please is to stick me in jail or kill me.

Yours in liberty (hah!),

Pissed off much? Yes, I am.

As it happens, I hold myself to a pretty strict disclosure policy here at KN@PPSTER. If I post for pay, I make sure I mention that I'm posting for pay. If I receive a freebie or an incentive in exchange for a review, I mention that too. I usually even note when a link is an affiliate/commission thing.


You either trust me or you don't.

If you don't trust me, additional disclaimers/disclosures, or external rules requiring them, probably won't change that.

If you do trust me, I'll be the first to tell you to confirm for yourself that I'm earning that trust by taking a hard, skeptical look at what I'm saying and asking yourself why I might be saying it. If you're willing to do that, you don't need FTC rules to protect you from me. If you're not willing to do that, you're an idiot if you think that FTC rules are a working substitute for doing it.

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